You’ve been social distancing to help “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of coronavirus in your community. But there’s always more you can do. Hospitals and food banks need supplies. Nonprofits are short on funds (and people). Small businesses like restaurants are having trouble paying employees.
With stay-at-home orders in place, assisting your community can be a challenge. Here are a few ways you can help.
Give money and supplies
With unemployment rising, local food banks face increasing demands. Donating as little as $1 to a food bank can pay for two to five meals — a great help to families in need. Similarly, nonprofits you typically (or even rarely) donate to can use extra financial help, especially those dealing in public health.
In particular, hospitals desperately need more personal protective equipment (PPE) for the doctors, nurses and other health care professionals fighting the pandemic. Specifically, if you have “N95” respirator masks, hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol), disposable gloves, goggles or disinfectants/wipes (rated by the EPA Opens in a new window to kill the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus), consider donating them to a local medical facility.
Grocery stores and supermarkets are essential businesses — so their workers are also on the front lines. Some big grocery chains are providing cashiers, baggers and others with masks and gloves. But not all. So find out what your local stores need, and try to help if you can.
(As for yourself, it’s easy to make washable no-sew masks at home Opens in a new window if you have bandanas, cloths or even old t-shirts, along with elastic hair bands, rubber bands or similarly stretchy materials.)
Give your time
If you’re working from home or have been laid off, time is one thing you probably have plenty of. Nonprofit organizations and charities are understaffed and can use a helping hand. So reach out and see if you can (safely) offer your time and assistance. Some organizations provide remote volunteer opportunities Opens in a new window, such as calling and checking in with senior citizens, mentoring students, writing grants and counseling others in a crisis.
Support local restaurants
Many nonessential businesses have been forced to close until further notice. To pay wages for their tipped workers, some restaurants have started fundraising campaigns on sites like GoFundMe Opens in a new window. Some have also been allowed to stay open for take-out or delivery; ordering from them (particularly those that aren’t part of a big chain) can help keep them afloat during a trying time. Even buying gift cards can pay them forward with much-needed revenue.